Sandwinning activities in Ghana threaten West African Gas Pipeline

Activities of the sand winners at the Aboadze beach are posing a serious threat to the multi-million dollar gas pipeline delivering natural gas to power the Aboadze Thermal Plant.

Managers of the plant have warned that if any damage is caused to the pipeline, it will compel the government to revert to the use of crude oil for power generation.

The sand-winning activities, according to officials of the West African Gas Pipeline Company (WAPCo), the Volta River Authority (VRA) and the community, were carried out in the night and very close to the underground pipeline which delivers natural gas to the last receptacles at the Aboadze WAPCo facility.

In Tema, the officials said the activities posed a great threat to the smaller flow lines that were delivering gas to the Asogli and the VRA plants from the main pipeline which ends at Aboadze.

The operators, the district assembly, as well as the chiefs and people of nearby communities, have expressed concern over the activities of the sand winners who do not live in the communities.

Safety officers of the operators of the thermal plant said the demarcated safety zone was more than five kilometres and, therefore, urged those winning sand along the beach close to the thermal plant to desist from the act.

According to the safety officers, a few months from now the Jubilee Gas would be delivered at Bonyere in the Jomoro District in the Western Region and the smaller pipes would be extended from there to the plants at the Aboadze Thermal Plant.

Members of the  Abuiesi and Aboadze communities who spoke to the Daily Graphic said their occupation was fishing and that they were surprised that sand-winning activities were ongoing close to the plants.

The Assembly Member for the area, Mr Fredrick Mensah, said the communities were very much aware of the importance of the plant to industry and society and would, therefore, not dare to win sand anywhere near it.

He said the situation was constantly saved by high tides that from time to time filled the trenches left behind by the sand winners with sand.

Mr Mensah said the area was isolated in the night that it was dangerous for any of them to attempt stopping the sand winners and that they had had meetings with community leaders on the issue and expressed the hope that efforts would be made to clamp down on the sand winners.

When contacted, the Shama District Chief Executive, Mr Enoch Appiah, said the sandwinning activities had come to his notice and that he would hold meetings with the security agencies in Shama to protect the investment.

He said even if the sandwinning activities were not close to the gas pipelines, it was still wrong to win sand at the beach, considering its effects on the environment.

WAPCo is a limited liability company that owns and operates the gas pipeline which stretches about 678 kilometres from the existing Escravos-Lagos pipeline at the Nigeria Gas Company’s Itoki Natural Gas Export Terminal in Nigeria to Aboadze.

The Escravos-Lagos pipeline system has a capacity of 800MMscfd and the WAPCo system will initially carry a volume of 170MMscfd and peak over time at a capacity of 460MMscfd.

WAPCo’s Regulating and Metering (R&M) station in Takoradi has been delivering gas under free flow operations since April 2009 and in Tema since August 2010.

Source: Daily Graphic

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